The Right Way of Doing Animal Portraiture


Animals can be portrayed of course, but a specific set of tips and tricks will help you put into making the most out of your animal portraiture endeavour. But first let’s talk about lenses because opposed to human portraiture, you can use wide angles more often here.

When to Shoot Wide?

You’ll prefer to shoot with a wide angle lens every time that you want to achieve a quirky or cute look from the portrayed animal. For example, dogs tend to look extremely cute when they are captured with wide angle lenses that are extremely close to their faces. Also if you want to exaggerate a gesture or a feature in an animal, wide angle might be the perfect way to go. Differently from humans, which is less desired to distort somebody in such an elongated way.

When to Shoot with a Telephoto or a Zoom?

All the other times that you don’t want to get the funny and cartoonish look from wide angle lenses. Period. Super-telephoto and big zoom lenses are the favourite pick for wildlife photography due to some reasons. First and foremost they allow photographers to get pretty close to wild animals while still being technically safe, at least from the one in front of the lens.

A close-up shot of an African elephant - source:unsplash
A close-up shot of an African elephant – source:unsplash

So, let’s talk about some tips that will make your animal portraiture mouthwatering.

  1. Seek Light in a Useful way

    Light is everything in photography, and that is true, but beyond that cliched phrase, what does that actually mean? Well, try to get the light that works best for the message that you are trying to convey via your animal portrait. If you want drama, then look for nice and soft light that will accentuate textures and shadows. If you want a more glamorous look, seek light that feels in the gaps and makes everything look pristine. Always let your concept guide your lighting decision, don’t improvise when it comes to this.

  2. Be Patient

    Photographing animals in the wilderness is one of the most patience consuming task ever, but it pays back. Animals tend to be somewhat predictable, you just need to wait for them to return to the place where they slipped from your lens.

  3. Use natural Light

    If you use flash, you’ll give yourself away, which is pretty logical we know but it had to be said. Also flash gives a weird effect when capturing frontal animal faces.

  4. Get Closer!

    Getting close in wildlife photography isn’t that simple if you don’t have a might super telephoto lens with you. If that is the case, then be very careful when getting close. If you really like doing animal photography, invest in a long lens that will keep you at a safe distance at all the times. You can also rent some of these bad boys nowadays.

  5. Candid is bae

    Some photographers tend to trick animals into watching them, especially under controlled situations like studios or pet sessions. Please avoid this, it looks pretty fake and they are not humans, they are animals, let them be animals!

Animals can get portrayed in control environment settings or in the total wilderness. The art of portraying them will be in your eyes and fingers while commanded by your own creative minds. Whatever you do, don’t risk your lives, we know that a photograph is sometimes pretty worth anything, but try to keep yourselves safe at all times.

African Wildlife Photos

The Editor of African Wildlife Photos (Photography Blog)

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